Changeling—Universal (Blu-ray)

Video: 4.5/5
Audio: 4/5
Extras: 3.5/5

Los Angeles, 1928: On a Saturday morning in a working class suburb, Christine said goodbye to her son Walter, and left for work. When she came home, she discovered he had vanished. A fruitless search ensues, and months later, a boy claiming to be the nine year old is returned. Dazed by the swirl of cops, reporters and her conflicted emotions, Christine allows him to stay overnight. But in her heart, she knows he is not Walter. As she pushes authorities to keep looking, she learns that in Prohibition-era L.A., women don't challenge the system and live to tell their story. Slandered as delusional and unfit, Christine finds an ally in activist Reverend Briegleb, who helps her fight the city to look for her missing boy.

Clint Eastwood directed two magnificent pieces of film this last year. This one featured an amazing performance by Angelina Jolie and one of the most disturbing true stories I’ve ever seen. The trailers made this one out to look a bit cut and dry but it is anything but. The scope of the story involves the struggle of Christine Collins as she battles the LAPD over the identity of her son, but it also involves a grisly tale of a disturbed man with a farm of terror outside of the city. I’ve heard rumors that Eastwood may be putting in his resignation with Hollywood and after the last few years of amazing films with him at the helm I really hope that won’t be the case.

Universal does a tremendous job with the HD presentation. Fine detail is on full display throughout and I loved the bleak look of the film and the strong contrast. Blacks are quite inky with excellent definition and shadow detail. Some of the CG backdrops look a tad soft but Eastwood did a great job recreating the 1920’s in L.A. Dimensionality is strong throughout and depth of image is excellent. Colors are muted and the film does have a rather bleak look but this only adds to the strength of the imagery and setting the tone for the events.

The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is good but this isn’t an overly dynamic film. Subtle nuances translate nicely though and spatial cues are abundant. Dynamics are impressive in the few instances that the soundtrack picks up but the score is probably the highlight of the sound design and really punctuates the mood. Dialogue sounds very natural and is balanced perfectly within the mix. While subtle, the soundtrack overall does a great job with the mood and atmosphere of the film.

Universal makes the most of the advanced Blu-ray profiles yet again with full support of BD-Live and Bonus View features. A picture-in-picture feature can be toggled on and off during the film and includes a look at the production along with video interviews and commentary. You also get an interesting look at recreating the look of L.A. back in the 20’s and 30’s along with a full archive of the real events this film is based on. Standard extras include a look at the production and Jolie’s portrayal of the real Christine Collins.

Eastwood delivers a powerful film here that I’m surprised didn’t garnish a lot more attention at the Oscars. Jolie is fantastic in the role but the story is by far the highlight of this disturbing look at early Los Angeles. Highly recommended.

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